English Vocabulary – Five Pairs of Commonly Confused English Words

Commonly Confused English Words

      1. Beside vs Besides

      Beside (preposition): next to or at the side of someone or something 

      The girl standing beside Tom is Mary. 

      Besides (preposition): in addition to/apart from someone or something

      Besides working as a teacher, she also writes freelance for a fashion magazine.


      2. Principle vs Principal

      Principle (noun; usually plural): a moral rule or a strong belief that influences your actions

      Lucy will not lie as she has high moral principles. 

      Principle (noun): a law, a rule or a theory that something is based on

      The syllabus covers basic principles of accounting. 

      Principal (adjective): most important; main

      Tourist revenue is the country’s principal source of wealth.

      Principal (noun): the person who is in charge of a school

      John is the principal of Hillview High School. 


      3. Compliment vs Complement

      Compliment (noun): a remark that expresses praise or admiration of someone 

      It is a great compliment to be asked to be the guest-of-honour. 

      Compliments (noun; plural): polite words or good wishes, especially when used to express praise and admiration

      Please give my compliments to the wonderful chef.

      Compliment (verb): to tell someone that you like or admire something he/she has done, etc.

      He complimented Betsy on her new hairstyle.

      Complement (verb): to add to something in a way that improves it or makes it more attractive

      The excellent menu is complemented by a good wine list.


      4. Access vs Assess

      Access (noun): a way of entering or reaching a place

      The burglars gained access through a broken window.

      Access (verb): reach, enter or use something

      This room can only be accessed by authorised personnel.

      Assess (verb): to make a judgement about the nature or quality of someone/something

      The government will assess how well the new system works.


      5. Emigrate vs Immigrate 

      Emigrate (verb): to leave your own country to go and live permanently in another country

      The family left India in 1975 and emigrated to the United States.

      Immigrate (verb): to come and live permanently in a country after leaving your own country

      About 6.6 million people immigrated to the United States in the 1970s.

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      Categories: English 101